The weather is getting warmer, the days are getting longer and soon you’ll start to see and hear more motorcycles hitting the roads. But with that comes risks, not just for the motorcycle drivers themselves, but for their passengers and other drivers on the roads.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety there were more than 5,000 motorcyclist deaths in 2017. While those numbers had been on the decline in the early 1980s, they have steadily risen since 1998. Not surprisingly, as the weather gets warmer more accidents tend to occur. More than half of all motorcycle accident fatalities occurred between May and September.
There are some additional risk factors associated with motorcycles. Motorcycles, by nature, are smaller and narrower than a car, truck or van and therefore harder for others to see on the road. As a motorcycle driver you should always make sure you are obeying traffic laws, keeping a safe distance between you and the car ahead of you, and being defensive. As a driver sharing the road with these motorcycles it’s important to always double-check blind spots, listen for the distinct sounds that motorcycles make so you are aware they are in the vicinity, and remember to treat motorcycle riders with extra caution as their vehicles are not built the same.
Road hazards and weather conditions play large roles in motorcycle safety. A small pothole which can be handled relatively easily in a car is much more dangerous for a motorcycle. The same goes for debris in the road. Cars are heavier and wider and can withstand a small road hazard much better than a motorcycle can. Since motorcycles are open vehicles, drivers and riders are exposed to the elements. On cold, wet rides it’s best to keep your hands, arms and legs covered, and feet warm; on very warm days it’s important to take frequent breaks to let yourself cool off under your gear. When your body temperature rises or falls it can impact your ability to react quickly to dangerous situations.
The most important piece of gear for a motorcyclist is their helmet. Just as a seatbelt is the first line of defense in a car, a helmet is the first line of defense on a motorcycle. You should never ride a motorcycle without a helmet, even if you are just taking a short trip. That piece of equipment could mean the difference between life or death. Your helmet truly is your only real protection while you are on that bike.
All drivers, whether it’s in a car or motorcycle, need to share the road and share it safely. Safe driving is the number one way to prevent an accident. But should you happen to get into one remember to always call for help, take pictures and know your rights.